Moving from poverty to possibility: Jim's story

Jim Paduch was a regular working guy for most of his life. Had a good paying job, a wife, family and friends. Then, during the 1980s Jim started using drugs. In order to live the drug life he began selling drugs and thus, Jim spent ten years in the drug sub-culture.

However, as with almost any other job, you need to be able to see to do your job properly and eventually Jim realized that he couldn’t even see well enough to deal drugs. He had cataracts and was not making enough money to feed himself and his wife. “We were sleeping on the floor of a dingy, old trailer with four other people. We began going to the Upper Room Mission because we needed to eat,“ said Jim.

Once Jim started coming to the Upper Room Mission regularly, the staff offered him opportunities to volunteer around the place and they would provide him with food that he could take home for himself and the others he was living with. “I realized that life as a drug dealer was going nowhere and made the decision to quit that life,” said Jim.  “The staff at the Upper Room Mission gave me purpose, and direction, and helped make the arrangements to get my cataracts fixed.”

Bit by bit, Jim became a valuable volunteer - he started filling in as the truck driver for a couple of months and it turned into a year. The Upper Room Mission then offered Jim an opportunity to run their bottle return program as part of the Fresh Start Guest Work Program funded by United Way. This great program has now become partially self-sustaining. The Upper Room Mission’s Fresh Start Guest Work Program now has three clients employed and another four volunteering. Jim has now moved up to working full time as the receiver for the Upper Room Boutique Thrift Shop, has a nice townhouse to live in, and truly has been given a fresh start.


Change starts here with people moving from poverty to possibility with the support of United Way. To find out more go to www.unitedwaynocs.com


Submitted by Linda M. Yule, Executive Director

United Way North Okanagan Columbia Shuswap

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Change Starts Here articles

About the Author

The mission of United Way is to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action.

We call this our Community Impact Mission. Community impact is about achieving meaningful, long-term improvements to the quality of life in Canadian communities, by addressing not just the symptoms of problems but also getting at the root causes. It’s about making fundamental changes to community conditions.

United Way is achieving this mission by moving people from poverty to possibility, promoting healthy people and strong communities, and supporting all that kids can be.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories